Category Archives: Lake Okeechobee

LakeO Update Sunday, July 5, 2020

Keeping up the Lake Okeechobee algae bloom documentation, Ed and I flew from Stuart to Lake Okeechobee during a hazy, hot high-noon, on Sunday, July 5, 2020. The algae was much toned down from our previous flights in June. Nonetheless, one could see the pattern, the outline, of the giant bloom from above. Rain may have disrupted its perk but the bloom remains in the water column. The most visual appeared to be in the middle of the lake and again, about a mile or so off Port Mayaca. 

I have included photographs of the journey: St Lucie River at Palm City; flying over western lands and under construction C-44 Reservoir/STA ; FPL cooling pond; algae in Lake O; Clewiston; south rim of lake with agriculture and sugar fields; Indiantown and Hwy. 710; DuPuis and Corbett Wildlife Areas;  one glance back to Lake Okeechobee; and an updated 2020 “Covid-19 portrait” of Ed and me. 

We will continue to document throughout the summer. Keep up the fight! Stop the Discharges! Stop the Algae

~Your eye in the sky

Jacqui & Ed 

St Lucie River at Palm City
Western lands and C-44 Reservoir/STA under construction-5 STA cells  filled
FPL cooling pond and edge of LO
Algae in LO off Port Mayaca
Closer to center of LO

Clewiston
Southern shoreline and agriculture fields, mostly sugarcane
Southeastern shoreline
Port Mayaca, DuPuis, Corbett Wildlife Management Area-dark green

This shot, below, was taken flying back east over the Village of Indiantown. Highway 710 is seen bisecting neighboring Dupuis and Corbett Wildlife Area and John and Mariana Jones Hungryland Wildlife Area. I will be writing more about the protected areas and the highway that cuts through them in the future. 

“Hey get rid of that plastic water bottle would ya? 100 degrees or not!” Jacqui & Ed 2020

Algae Overview North, South, East, West LakeO

Because the Baron needs hours on the engine, my husband Ed and I have been up in the sky a lot lately. Sometimes I am with him and sometimes I am not, but through technology we are always connected. 

Today I am sharing all aerials Ed took yesterday, 6-17-20, that continue to document a very expansive algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee. 

So where exactly is the algae? I can tell you, from the sky, flying over the central and southern part of the lake -at two, to five thousand feet -going two-hundred miles per hours -it sometimes becomes one giant blur of green. Right now, the bloom is visible mostly in the south central (east, west and central) areas of the lake, not in the north.

Seeing the algae depends on lighting and some areas are brighter than others, but when the sun hits the water just right, a sheen is everywhere.

About a mile and a half off Port Mayaca’s S-308 on the east side is the brightest and weirdest of all often displaying geometric formations due to boat traffic through the channel.

The ACOE has been flowing C-44 into the lake at S-308 but this certainly is not the cause of all the algae. Ed and I have years of documentation. The lake is eutrophic. Winds also affect the collection and formation of the algae. For a deeper dive into this you can visit my brother Todd Thurlow’s website EyeOnLakeO.

Here are all photos 6-17-20 with some comment clues and GPS. I have made one comment and then all photos that follow are the same location just a different angle. Use the GPS too. Question? Just ask! 

~Eye in the Sky 

MOVIE SOUTHEASTERN LAKEO, 6-17-20 

Documenting SLR and LO-June 2020

Documenting St Lucie River and Lake Okeechobee, Saturday, June 13, 2020

Today’s post includes two sets of photos taken from two different planes: the Supercub and the Baron. The Supercub is the classic yellow “River Warrior” open-air plane, and the Baron is a closed cockpit twin-engine with the distinctive upturned wing-tip. The Supercub can fly low and slow, the Baron can fly higher and faster. Both offer unique perspectives to photograph our waterways. 

I.

Dr. Scott Kuhns and Steve Schimming shared photos taken from the Supercub in the morning hours of Saturday, 6-13-20. Scott uses a quality Nikon camera thus his photos offer a wider or closer perspective. Thank you Scott and Steve, long time River Warriors and  friends. Their photos reveal the coffee color of the St Lucie following torrential rains.

Canal systems dumping fresh water into SLR  presently is primarily from C-23 and C-24. Good for the S.L. the SFWMD is advocating and the ACOE is allowing the water in the C-44 to run back into L.O. as lake was not in “ecological envelope.” Note: presently there are no discharges from LO into the SLR. ~Image SFWMD

St Lucie Inlet

Confluence SLR/IRL
Looking southt to St Lucie Inlet and Jupiter Narrows
Seagrasses looking bleak

Bird Island
Sailfish Point
Sailfish Point
Crossroads SLR/IRL

Sandbar
Sandbar
Sandbar
Bird Island IRL
Photos Dr Scott Kuhns: Sewall’s Point

II.

This next set of aerials was taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, and myself the same day, 6-13-20,  a few hours later, closer to noon.  Again, it is important to note the St Lucie area recently experienced particularly heavy rains, only Broward County and parts of Miami- Dade had more. So we can learn about this, I am sharing the most recent Water Conditions Report of the SFWMD for details of all the St Lucie and all south and central Florida. See link under Rainfall Distribution Comparison slide below. 

The first group of photos from Ed and I in the Baron is of the St Lucie River and the second set is of algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee. NOTE THE ACOE IS NOT DISCHARGING INTO THE ST LUCIE AT THIS TIME.

We continue to document and thank all who are working towards projects and ways of life that better water quality in the state of Florida. We know what we need to do! 

https://apps.sfwmd.gov/webapps/publicMeetings/viewFile/25566

 

Sailfish Flats IRL
Exiting St Lucie Inlet looking south along Jupiter Narrows/Jupiter Island
Plume becoming visible
Looking back again into southern edge of SL Inlet

Now back at the St Lucie River and St Lucie Inlet at higher altitude
St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon
Sailfish Point St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon
Plume from higher perspective
Veteran’s Bridge in Palm City looking back to Stuart, note Witham Field and ocean in distance
Circling around- Hobe Sound looking north to St Lucie Inlet.
Heading west over Atlantic Ridge natural area
Approaching Lake O. FPL cooling pond visible.
S-308 at L.O. and C-44 Canal
My brother Todd Thurlow’s website shows that algae in L.O. is now showing on low resolution satellite imagery: Terra, Aqua, Suomi: http://eyeonlakeo.com/LakeO3x7days.html; http://eyeonlakeo.com
algae bloom southern rim
algae bloom like this was basically throughout southern area of lake, but denser in some areas and not so dense in others….
Ed’s palne GPS, present location south L.O.
South Lake O over southern rim
LakeO lapping towards Port Mayaca not FPL cooling pond, this area is by far the most algae ridden

Lake O
Lake O
Lake O
Lots of algae in Lake Okeechobee

MOVIE:

Now after flying west again over Lake Okeechobee algae here as well but more spread out

Another great SFWMD is the most recent Ecological Report as it discusses effects of water quantity and quality on fish and wildlife for all central and S.F.: (https://apps.sfwmd.gov/webapps/publicMeetings/viewFile/25567)

Satellite View, All Aerials, 2020 Algae Bloom Lake Okeechobee

Regarding: yesterday’s post, Eutrophic Lake Okeechobee

This morning, for purposes of documentation, I am posting the path my husband, Ed Lippisch, flew over Lake Okeechobee yesterday (6-10-20) and all aerials taken. Thank you to my brother Todd Thurlow, who shares technical information on his website, for re-creating Ed’s path via Flight Aware, and for also sharing the latest satellite high resolution images of Sentinel 2 retrieved 6-9-20. All of Ed’s phots displayed in gallery format below were taken from 2000 to 1500 feet on return flight along southern portion of Lake Okeechobee ending at Port Mayaca, east central, Martin County. His flight to the west coast was at 5000 feet and Ed said he saw no algae visible from that perspective.

High Res links to 6-9-20 Sentinel 2 imagery

 

(http://eyeonlakeo.com/NCCOS%20HAB%20Images/sentinel-3b.2020161.0609.1532C.L3.SF3.v950V20193_1_2.CIcyano-Crop%2BTruecolor.tif)

EyeonLakeO website, TT

All aerials, Ed Lippisch flight, 6-10-20, Moore Haven to Port Mayaca: if you are having trouble viewing this gallery please go to (https://wp.me/p3UayJ-b0a)

 

Aerials~St Lucie & LakeO-“After the Rain” 4-18-20

Last night, 4-18-20, after a hiatus, Mother Nature decided to “let it rain” and this morning friends Dr Scott Kuhns and daughter-in-law, Dr Mary Kuhns went for a flight over the St Lucie River and Lake Okeechobee to check things out.
Ed and I thank them for sharing their photographs!
Update-No visible algae at S-308 or along the C-44 canal. The waters of the St Lucie River are grayish from rain water runoff. Things look good, considering.  
~The rainfall numbers across the SFWMD can be viewed at the SFWMD’s 24 Hour Realtime Rain Gauge Site.
S-308 at Port Mayaca, Lake O
Along C-44 canal, do you see algae?
South Sewall’s Point, rain runoff visible
Hole in the wall & St Lucie Inlet
Rain plume exciting St Lucie Inlet

SFWMD 

Lake O 11.34 feet NVGD

JAXACOE

Canals in Martin & St Lucie Co.that are connected to the St Luice River: C-23, C-24, C-25 built in the 50s and 60s. C-44 is also connected to Lake Okeechobee constructed in the 1920s. The natural basins of the SLR have been tremendously enlarged damaging the river.

Thank you SFWMD & ACOE for info. 

Times Change! When Lake Okeechobee Was an Inland Sea

After my most recent blog post, people were asking me about the shells I found along the eastern shoreline of Lake Okeechobee. My mother even shared a rare visit to her collection-closet revealing a huge ten-inch Busycon contrarium ~also known as a whelk. She brushed the dust off the amazing “fossil.” On it, a shiny pink ribbon held a note that read:

“This Busycon contrarium blank was purchased from Lottie Huff a Seminole at the Brighton Reservation. She had a little craft store on highway 721 that runs through the reservation from State Road 70 to State Road 78. Her husband Stanley found it in some material dug up by heavy equipment. She had cleaned it up. 7/3/95.

Then she emailed me: “So are those shells in Lake Okeechobee from the years when the ocean covered Florida, like the shark teeth found in today’s freshwater creeks and streams?” 

I did not know. I do not know. I started researching and I still don’t know! 

 

There is a plethora of literature about the formation of Florida and most documents agree about geology and that Lake Okeechobee was formed about six-thousand years ago. Long before that, Florida was an inland sea. Thus today, our state is a destination for shell fossil hunters  and much larger ancient megafauna, and even calcite fossilized clams

Florida Geological Survey 

Florida is an amazing place with so much history. Now if only I can get answers about those shells I found! Do you know the answer? Please write me if you do. I will continue the hunt myself, but in the meanwhile,  let’s admire my mother‘s incredible busycon contrarium! 

Lake Shells Tell, the Eastern Beach of Lake O was Miraculous Indeed!

SHELLS COLLECTED FROM THE SHORELINE OF LAKE OKEECHOBEE 4-5-20

With time on my hands, I have started rereading “The Boyer Survey: An Archaeological Investigation of Lake Okeechobee” by Christian Davenport, Gregory Mount and George Boyer, Jr., written in 2011 and begun in 2006. I have written extensively on this publication  before and find it one of the best historical accounts of our Great Lake Okeechobee.

What got me thinking about it again was a recent visit with my husband and our dog Luna. While we were there, I saw the wide exposed eastern shoreline of Lake Okeechobee for the very first time. Due to a lake level of about 11.70 feet on April 5th, part of the shoreline was beach like and exposed. I felt compelled to walk on it, and dreamt of what the surrounding may have looked like hundreds of years ago. Of course a true ancient shoreline would have been located further east. Drainage, the Herbert Hoover Dike, and Conners Highway give the illusion that things “always looked this way.” 

I was struck by the multitude of small clams shells and snail shells covering the entire shoreline. Some appeared ancient and others not. In any case, I had never seen them before either. They were beautiful even though some were draped in blue-green algae. It was a rare experience. I even found a green piece of “sea-glass along the beach!”

So back to the Boyer Survey. Today for some insight on Lake O’s ancient beach, we will review the  Chapter 1, Introduction, of the Boyer Survey. The first paragraph reads: 

“The circumstances that led to the Boyer Survey of Lake Okeechobee began in the fall of 2006. South Florida water managers lowered the level of Lake Okeechobee behind the Herbert Hoover Dike in anticipation of a predicted severe hurricane season accompanied by a potentially unprecedented amount of rainfall. Neither the hurricanes not the rainfall materialized. In fact, a severe drought set in. This lowered water levels throughout south Florida and combined with the already lowered water levels of Lake Okeechobee, reduced the lake’s depth from a normal  5.49 to 6.10 m (18-20 feet) to a record low of 2.69m (8.8 feet). (Obviously this the ACOE was not following LORS 2008 at this time.)

A concerned citizen called Palm Beach County in February 2007 to report that ancient human remains and artifacts were exposed on the lakebed…

The Boyer Survey project area is situated in the southeast section of Lake Okeechobee encompassing about 42,092 square miles.  

…The lake is a low lying basin with unique features near its south end that helped shape and contain it. These include the Okeechobee Ridge, the Southern Ridge the Spillover Lands, and the fossilized coral ridge. 

The Okeechobee Ridge is a sand ridge that extends from the Martin County /Palm Beach county line to just north of Pahokee. This ridge is thought to represent an old shoreline of the lake. The only place there is a gap in the ridge is around the modern hamlet of Sand Cut. Smith (1848) stated only the eastern shore of Lake  Okeechobee was well defined by a hard sand shore….

A lower lake has positive and negative effects. Let’s look at one that is positive. While it has been documented by the ACOE and SFWMD that record amounts of submerged aquatic vegetation are growing in the north western and western areas of Lake Okeechobee, the eastern shoreline is ailing as the photos below document.

 I do hope that one day there will be more of an effort to create a modern eastern shoreline, an Okeechobee Ridge, that mimics the ancient lake okeechobee shoreline as referred to in the historic Lake Okeechobee account of the Boyer Survey. As the lake shells tell, the Okeechobee Ridge is there, somewhere. The eastern beach of Lake Okeechobee must have been miraculous indeed! 

 

Very Good-Not So Good~St Lucie to Lake O (4-7-20)

Hi. Today I will provide a water update. Some is good; some is not so good. 

St Lucie River

Although the coronavirus and social distancing is hampering everyones’ ability to visit the St Lucie in large groups, the water in the St Lucie River -at least near the inlet- remains beautiful right now. If you have not been out, you can witness this blue water in photos taken by my husband and me on Saturday, April 4, 2020.

Lake Okeechobee. 11.70 feet. 

The South Florida Water Management District  and Army Corp of Engineers report Lake Okeechobee’s submerged aquatic vegetation, SAV, is really expanding the sun can reach the grass; this is fantastic for fish and wildlife and water quality, however the closely diked east side of the lake does not get the SAV benefit as it is too deep; the slight algae bloom reported there last week remains.  We must be honest and recognize many people feel the lake is too low, but fortunately, there is little chance of discharges from Lake O to the St Lucie and this is a good thing.

~We must note that today the SFWMD made a call for water conservation as much of South Florida is very dry.

~We most keep in mind that predictions are for an above normal hurricane season.  It should start raining in the coming weeks. 

~In all situations, we must keep our eye on lake O.

Please see the photos below a water update! JTL 

LOOKING BLUE! ST LUCIE RIVER AND INDIAN RIVER LAGOON BETWEEN SEWALL’S POINT AND SAILFISH POINT, AN AREA KNOWN AS THE SAILFISH FLATS. SEAGRASS SLOWLY RETURNING. 4-4-20 JTL/EL

ST LUCIE INLET AS SEEN FROM ATLANTIC 

 

LAKE O 

 

 

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation has greatly improved in Lake Okeechobee;  this is great news. The grasses are located in shallow areas but not along the eastern edge where S-308 opens to the St Lucie. The lake is 730 square miles, topography varies. The lake was reported by the ACOE to be 11.70 feet NVGD on 4-6-20. Areas along the shallow western shore look like below. 

 

SFWMD WEEKLY ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS REPORT 4-1-20 (IMAGES FROM…)

 

LAKE OKEECHOBEE’S EASTERN SHORELINE, 5000 FT. THIS SHORELINE WAS DIKED CLOSE IN, THE EDGE IS DEEP SO NO SAV GROWS HERE. 4-4-20JTL/EL.

FPL COOLNG POND EASTERN SHORE, ST LUCIE CANAL or C-44 Canal. S-308 at Lake O. YOU DON’T SEE ALGAE FROM THIS FAR UP. JUST A SHADE OF GREEN. 

 

KISSIMMEE RIVER ENTERS LAKE O. LAND EXPOSED DUE TO LOWER LAKE LEVEL. PRETTY HERE. 4-4-20 JTL/EL.

BUCKHEAD RIDGE 

 

Below: THESE PHOTOS WERE TAKEN THE FOLLOWING DAY, SUNDAY, 4-5-20 ON THE GROUND CLEARLY SHOW BLUE GREEN ALGAE ALONG THE EASTERN SIDE OF LAKE OKEECHOBEE AND THE S-308 STRUCTURE THAT ALLOWS WATER INTO THE C-44 CANAL FOR AGRICULTURAL IRRIGATION.

AT THIS TIME NO WATER FROM LAKE O IS GOING THROUGH S-80 AT THE ST LUCIE LOCKS AND DAM TO THE ST LUCIE RIVER. WE WILL CONTINUE TO REMEMBER THE ALAGE BLOOMS BROUGH ON BY LAKE O IN 2016 AND 2018 AND KEEP OUR EYE ON LAKE O

EASTERN SHORELINE OF LAKE O ALGAE IS APPARENT! VERY DARK WATERS.

SITTING ON ROCKY SHORELINE OF EAST LAKE OKEECHOBEE,  SUGARCANE BURNING BEHIND ME, ANCIENT SHELLS IN HAND. ~Photo Ed Lippisch